Confucian Tough Love
When I look around I see way too many parents who let their kids get away with murder. Whether this is a problem more “nowadays” or not I don’t know. Probably not. Still, it’s annoying to watch. Their kids are never wrong, they cover up for them, they don’t make them face up to the consequences of their actions. Everything is meant to make things easy for the kid (no doubt due to some strange feeling that it is one’s duty to make your child perennially “happy” — like some character our of Brave New World).
In any case, it’s refreshing when you hear a story about a parent who really goes the other way and does what they need to do to reverse that trend. In fact, I think this is very Confucian — one shouldn’t be interested in “doping” up your kid in the sense that you assure they are always “happy” (one thinks here that the “small man” of the Analects might no doubt treat his or her children in this way). Instead, you should be clear that where a little unhappiness is needed, it should be applied and allowed to foster, given that it is focused on the right lessons. With that in mind, read this great story. Clearly Confucian values are not dead, after all. The “public” nature of the punishment seems to me very Chinese, and although tough, strangely appropriate.